An extraordinary man
He was an ordinary man - shaped by years of struggle and yearning for justice and peace, seasoned by 27 years of imprisonment and yet with a with a warm and humble heart not seeking revenge but truth, freedom and Peace.
South Africa and the World has lost an extraordinary leader and role model - an ordinary man, who made himself available to God and to his people.
This shows his Heart: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
We give God thanks for the life and witness of "Madiba" Nelson Mandela.
Mandela connected to Methodism
Throughout his life, Nelson Mandela had many connections to Methodism.
A graduate of a Methodist boarding school where many future African leaders were educated, the anti-apartheid champion was mentored by Methodist preachers and educators and formed a bond with a Methodist chaplain while in prison.
As president of South Africa, he worked with church leaders in shaping a new nation and eventually married Graça Machel, a United Methodist, widow of the former president of Mozambique and an advocate for women’s and children’s rights.
When that couple made a surprise appearance before the United Methodist Council of Bishops during a November 2006 meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, Bishop Janice Huie, then the council’s president, declared the group was “blessed” to have them in their presence. “We have been in the company of the saints and we know it, and we are grateful," she said.
The World Methodist Council recognized Mandela as a "symbol of freedom, justice and peace" when presenting him with its 2000 peace award.
"As a national and world leader his name is synonymous with reconciliation," said Frances Alguire, the council's chairperson, when the award was announced. "As a person he is remarkably free of bitterness. His life reflects the qualities of the World Methodist Peace Award."
Early Methodist roots
Mandela was born July 18, 1918, at Mvezo in the Eastern Cape and graduated from Healdtown, a boarding school started by Methodist missionaries in 1845. The Rev. Seth Mokitimi was the school’s chaplain. A renowned Methodist preacher and educator who in 1964 became the first black person elected to lead a major denomination in South Africa, he had a powerful influence on Mandela.
A new Methodist seminary, opened in 2009 within the Pietermaritzburg Cluster of ecumenical theological institutions at the University of KwaZulu-Natal near Durban, is named after Mokitimi, who died in 1971.
As a leader in a campaign against the apartheid system, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island in 1963. The Rev. Peter Storey, a Methodist pastor, served as chaplain to Mandela and other prisoners.
Storey, a former president of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, also became a close associate of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the church's anti-apartheid struggles.
Freed from prison on Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela was elected South Africa's president in 1994. He appointed Storey to help form South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established in 1995 and received world attention as a model of how to seek national healing and forgiveness.
"We knew we needed the truth to build a new nation,” Storey said in 2005 when he was a professor at Duke Divinity School. “Without truth, no healing. Without forgiveness, no future."
Challenge to the church
After Mandela’s election, Methodist leaders recognized the church’s “critical role” in creating a new South Africa. "The biggest challenge is for the church to learn to work with a government that is legitimate," then-Bishop H. Mvume Dandala said during a 1998 interview with United Methodist News Service in New York.
But the reluctance to criticize had to be addressed. "The euphoria of having our own government is still with us and it still is not easy to draw attention to what might be wrong," Dandala explained. Churches also had to help continue the healing process started by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he said.
Mandela retired as South Africa’s president in 1999 after serving one term, but he continued to have an influence both globally and on the African continent. On July 18, 2009, his birthday was declared International Mandela Day and has become an annual event for community service.
The Methodist Church in South Africa was started in 1836 by British Methodists and became autonomous in 1883. Today, it is made up of six countries in Southern Africa, and 2.5 million people claim a religious affiliation with the denomination.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at twitter.com/umcscribe.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
Chabadza! Zimbabwe-Norway Project Pays Off
With a sprightly spring in their steps, Jackson Munatsi, 74, and fellow villager Richard Denhere, 74, entered the freshly painted room. Their faces light up as they narrate how a Zimbabwean tradition has brought joy to their lives. They are seated in the recently completed waiting mothers’ shelter at Denhere Clinic in Chirumhanzu communal area, some 250 kilometers south of the capital, Harare. Designed to serve pregnant women awaiting delivery, the shelter has been furnished with 12 beds and will open its doors when lockers and Upboards for storing the patients’ personal belongings are delivered.
Zimbabwean tradition dictates that farmers going to the field take extra hoes, or mapadza. Neighbors and friends passing the field are to take up a spare hoe and lend a hand to get the work done faster. The practice is known as chabadza. In this communal spirit, the UMC in Norway and Zimbabwe teamed to form the Chabadza Community Development Program. There are now five projects in the Mutasa-Nyanga and Masvingo districts of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.
Juliet Marara, secretary of the Chabadza committee at Denhere clinic said the government started work on the shelter in 1982 but never completed it. “The Health Centre Committee was established to maintain structures at the clinic and every household in the area served by the clinic was levied $0.50 per month to contribute toward maintenance and refurbishment.”
Funds raised by the Health Centre Committee were used to resuscitate the incomplete building. It was while the community was struggling with this work that Chabadza stepped in. “The community had given the local UM pastor, Taurai Kandori, free accommodation at Denhere School, and when he saw the villagers’ development efforts he introduced Chabadza to us,” Marara said.
The UMC provided material for roofing, painting, lockers, 12 beds and attresses for the expectant mothers’ facility and an adjacent kitchen with a total value of $7,000. Denhere, the village headman, was overjoyed by the assistance rendered by the church. “Chabadza found us hard at work, but we could not afford to buy some of the materials required to complete this shelter and kitchen. UMC through Chabadza bought roofing material, paints and furnished the shelter, which is now ready for use.”
The Chirumhanzu villagers are not resting on their laurels. Three other major projects are in the pipeline, according to Marara, “We want to drill a borehole, and the area is currently being surveyed to find a suitable site.
We also wish to build a preschool classroom block and a teacher’s cottage at Denhere Primary School.”
The Chirumhanzu expectant mothers’ shelter is one of three projects that have been completed under the Norway-Zimbabwe partnership, says the Chabadza program director, the Rev. Lloyd Nyarota. “We have successfully completed a water project at Saungweme in Manicaland and built a classroom block at Matombo School in Gutu,” he said. The Chabadza program started in April 2012.
—Eveline Chikwanah, Zimbabwe Area. (Newscope 15. May 2013)
Fund for Mission in Europe – an Opportunity for Learning and Sharing
«Come and see!» This invitation has been extended countless times in the past 2000 years. People of all generations have been so much touched by God’s love that they wanted other people to have this experience as well.
There was, for instance, a boy and a girl in Plzeň (Czech Republic), who did not only persuade their mother to allow them to participate in the program of the «Rainbow-Center» of the UMC but to accompany them to the family summer camp, as well. As oncologist she was regularly faced with very serious and sad life stories. And, like the majority of people in the Czech Republic, she did not try to find the answers to the questions of her life in the church. But then she nevertheless went to the summer camp – and what she heard in many conversations, what she experienced together with her children and what she finally felt in her own heart, changed her life. She had accepted the invitation to come and see – and trusting in Jesus Christ she found peace and hope.
However, sometimes the invitation alone is not enough. Therefore all over Europe individuals and local churches are reaching out in as many various ways as possible in order to let others, through their words and their actions, experience God’s love, hope and peace.
However they may put love into action – what they have in common is a great commitment. But in many cases they also still have to rely on financial support from others. For example from you! Therefore once again a project list of the Fund for Mission in Europe has been prepared, which can be downloaded from http://www.umc-europe.org/home_1_d.php. The Fund for Mission in Europe has been established about 20 years ago as an instrument of solidarity between East and West. In the meantime people from more than a dozen countries in Eastern and Western Europe are contributing towards the joyful reality that the Fund is increasingly becoming what it aims to be: an instrument of truly mutual sharing.
Source: Urs Schweizer, Manager of the Fund for Mission in Europe
We are starting new churches...
We are starting new churches in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania, and Estonia and Latvia are on their way. New exciting ministries are developing reaching out to the community with hope and love through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Watch this video and learn more...